Small change makes big difference for FAU kicker Mitch Anderson

Posted by kornblue - May 2, 2014

Anderson has his confidence back

November 16, 2013|By Dieter Kurtenbach, Sun Sentinel

mitch anderson fauBOCA RATON — There’s a tired, over-used adage that says football is a game of inches. FAU kicker Mitch Anderson knows all too well that the adage is absolutely true, and that’s what made his struggles this season — and the adjustment that has him confident those struggles are a thing of the past — so frustrating.

Anderson entered FAU’s game against Tulane on Nov. 2 in a deep and prolonged slump. He had missed six of his last eight field goal attempts and two extra points, and his confidence was nowhere to be found.

The journeyman baseball player turned big-legged kicker practiced endlessly, trying to correct the problem, but the rut only became deeper.

The field goals weren’t going between the uprights and Anderson’s kickoffs were bordering on uncontrollable.

His private kicking instructor, Brandon Kornblue, saw what was happening from a distance, but couldn’t do much to help. Kornblue is one of the nation’s top private kicking coaches, and during football season, he often visits two or three different states in a week.

“I hadn’t seen him [in person], and we hadn’t talked. It’s not like he was hitting it terribly, but he wasn’t himself,” Kornblue, who lives in Bonita Springs, said.

Anderson, a senior, had gone through a similar slump his junior season. Working with Kornblue over the spring, both thought he had fixed the major technical deficiencies that ailed him.

In fact, he had. Anderson was kicking the ball with strong technique, even during the slump. So when Kornblue visited Anderson before the Tulane game, he filmed him to see if something smaller was the culprit of the kicker’s woes.

“After we watched the film, it was obvious that one of the biggest things I was doing wrong was my step-back.” Anderson said. “I’d be two and a half yards away from the ball. In the game film, I was at least three yards from the ball.”

That nearly impossible-to-notice difference was huge. Because Anderson was further from the ball, he was adjusting his kicking motion in-game. Ask any golfer using a driver: if you’re adjusting every time you take a backswing, bad things usually happen.

“That’s the thing. usually when you’re at that level, corrections are so small,” Kornblue said. “It’s not something that any regular football coach can pick up. Everybody is kind of on their own, especially during the season…It’s very common, but it’s really tough stuff and it’s down to an individual guy.”

Anderson shortened his steps and made a routine. Now, he goes two steps back, every time. He made both of his field goals against Tulane, with some monster kickoffs to boot, and his confidence is back.

“I’m 65 inches away from the ball — that’s where I want to be at every time now,” Anderson said. “I’ve been just taking those steps constantly, over and over again, and measuring out where I need to be every time.”

Anderson can laugh about it now, but the slump was taxing. He was pulled from FAU’s game against UAB, and former head coach Carl Pelini held nothing back when discussing his struggles, going as far to say “I had no one” to kick after FAU’s loss to Marshall last month.

“It’s real frustrating,” Anderson said. “If you’re two inches off on your steps back, that’s going to make a big difference when you plant and kick the ball. Every inch matters.”

Kornblue isn’t expecting to visit Anderson again any time soon, and he thinks the routine they developed could help Anderson, who has a kicking range as good as anyone in Conference USA, reach the NFL.

“What they’re looking for is strength, somebody who has that big leg, and Mitch is right on that fringe there,” Kornblue said. “He wouldn’t be a draft pick, but I can see him possibly being a free agent who comes in and gets some looks…He certainly has the potential.”